Relationships are supposed to be all fun and games. That’s what the media portrays them to be, at least.
But you’d be surprised how much of a roller-coaster these can get when they are just “supposed to be.” A strong relationship is one where both partners are willing to show patience, are eager to hear each other out, and genuinely understand the other’s perspective.
So often, however, a relationship takes on a life of its own and is no longer what it was initially intended to be. And when that happens, it can be pretty hard to get back on track and keep it moving. However, most relationship experts agree that a relationship should be as stable as possible. Research has been conducted that indicates that a strong relationship with at least six components is more durable than one that lacks just one of the components.
You don’t want just any relationship – you want the right one!
We are relational beings created to connect with others. We are hard-wired for love, attention, and affection. Studies show that much of our life’s well-being is directly linked to the satisfaction and success of our relationships with our partners, children, and coworkers. Yet, little time, if any, is taken to learn about the very subject that so often determines our day-to-day happiness.
The 5 C’s
Chemistry, Connection, Compatibility, Communication, Commitment
A healthy relationship is like an award-winning cake recipe. It takes several key ingredients to make it successful. Leave out one element or sacrifice the quality of the ingredients, and as hard as you try to make it work, it will never be a prize-winning cake. The same holds in relationships.
Studies have shown that happy couples share specific relationship components or ingredients. The more elements you share, the higher your odds of experiencing a successful relationship. It takes the right couple to experience chemistry and the right ingredients like connection, compatibility, communication, and commitment to make a stable, healthy, long-term relationship.
Chemistry: Physical Intimacy
Norepinephrine, dopamine, and phenylethylamine are chemicals called neurotransmitters. These transmitters, when released, produce feelings of euphoria, excitement, and happiness.
When you meet someone attractive to you, your brain triggers a response to release these “feel good” chemicals. MRI scans of the brain showed that when men and women were shown pictures of their romantic partners, areas of the brain rich in dopamine “light up”. Besides, the same area did not light up when the same subjects were shown pictures of their friends. (If he is telling you he wants to be friends, then he is telling you that you are not the one turning him on, literally.)
Chemistry occurs early in the relationship. It is exciting and intense, but unfortunately, it is short-lived. Over time, typically lasting between a few weeks to several months, the body develops a tolerance to the neurotransmitters causing the physical passion the decline.
Chemistry is a powerful mutual attraction that brings two people together. And although it is an essential ingredient, chemistry alone is not an indicator of a good relationship. As impressive as chemistry feels, it is not a determining factor in selecting Mr Right. Make the mistake of allowing chemistry to be the final factor in determining whether or not to pursue the new man in your life. You might be disappointed in your relationship.
You could call this “old people love”. When you connect with your partner emotionally, your relationship is secure, thoughtful, mature, warm, and familiar. And the longer you are with your partner, the more profound your connection.
A man and a woman must have an emotional connection as a couple. The link has nothing to do with sex and everything about how you make the other person feel when they are around you. Is your partner comfortable and happy? Can you trust one another with your thoughts, feelings, and desires?
A man must know that a woman is trustworthy and feel authentic before opening his heart and emotionally connecting with her. Likewise, he must also possess the ability to communicate with you and meet your emotional needs.
An emotionally mature man is a man who is capable of expressing his thoughts, feelings, and concerns. He is sensitive to your needs, supports you in a crisis, and is there when you need him. On the other hand, an emotionally immature man will minimise your feelings, ignore your needs, and be inconvenienced when you need his help.
Opposites might attract, but it doesn’t necessarily make them right life partners. To be compatible means to be like-minded. When it comes to relationships, you need to be consistent in critical areas. It would help if you were like-minded in your underlying thoughts, ideas, and values. When you are consistent, your likeness draws you closer. When you are incompatible, your differences drive you apart. Does this mean you need to share everything in common? Not. However, there is less conflict when you share common thoughts concerning:
Financial disagreements will kill your chemistry and short-circuit your connection. One person cannot be frugal while the other actively acquire debt.
For the most part, men are afraid of getting hosed in relationships. Let’s say Mr Right has dated and courted you for many months. He has taken you to dinner at the movies and bought you gifts on special occasions. The last thing he wants to do is fall in love with a woman who accepts his contributions and then charges a designer handbag on a credit card at 19.99%. He thinks he may have to pay for your Coach bag if you get married!
Likewise, if you live on a budget while Mr Wonderful buys drinks for everyone knowing his credit cards are charged to the max, then your relationship is already on shaky ground.
Successful couples report their partner as their best friend. A friend is someone you know and trust. You share affection, time, and shared interests. Friends support one another in the good times and the bad. This does not mean he spends all his time with you and that he never gets to play golf, go fishing, or play poker with the guys. It does; meanwhile, he is hanging out with the guys; he can’t wait to get home and see you at the end of the day.
Likewise, while you are at work, spending time with family, or out shopping with your girlfriends, you too can’t wait to get home to him.
Sense of humour
If you can find a partner you can laugh with, then you have found something special. There is nothing more attractive and appealing to a man than a woman with a sense of humour. If you can maintain the laughter and keep the conversation going in the weeks, months, and years to come, then you will not only have captured his attention, you will have captured his heart.
You may share a bed and good sex, but you won’t share much of anything else if you do not share fundamental core values. Both partners in a relationship possess the ability to compromise in certain situations. However, there are definite boundaries for actual values if you are looking for a long-term committed partner. There is no room for compromise regarding lying, cheating, stealing, mental, emotional, or physical abuse. Those are deal-breakers.
National Health and Social Life Survey reported that 12% of men and 17% of women were sexually abused before adolescence. If you have suffered from abuse of any kind, I will encourage you to seek outside help. You will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Not all sexual abuse results in sexual problems in adulthood; however, of all childhood experiences, sexual abuse has the most significant negative effect on adult sexual functioning.
A healthy relationship is a sexual relationship. Men and women may differ in their sexual drives, but you must discuss all aspects and preferences of your sexual life. Don’t spring your surprise sexual fantasies or lack thereof on him six months into a committed relationship. Be open and honest.
You learned how to communicate from your social environment growing up. Each partner brings an entirely different set of communication tools into the relationship. For the most part, it will be up to you to learn how to foster excellent communication. Couples who know how to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and opinions increase their chance of maintaining a long-term relationship.
Successful communication is learned. Successful couples are partners who have learned how to communicate clearly and concisely. They are not demanding, do not lose their temper, or call one another names.
To be an effective communicator, you must have a healthy respect for differences and the willingness to compromise in difficult situations. Couples who master communication seek to respond to their partner’s needs rather than emotionally react to their demands.
Today, many families are blended families. With that in mind, be solution-oriented when faced with a problem. Focus on the issue and not on the person.
If you want to know how you communicate with others, take an entire day and watch how you interact with family, friends, and coworkers. Better yet, carry a voice-activated recorder and listen to how you speak and respond to others.
The way you deliver your message is as important as the message itself. You may have the answer to the problem, but if you sarcastically provide the news, your words of wisdom will fall on deaf ears.
When it comes to effective communication, timing is everything. Never attack him when he walks through the door at night or first thing in the morning. There is never a valid reason for a woman to raise her voice, be hateful, or be rude. When you need to talk, ask him when it would be a good time.
Commitment: Mental Intimacy
Studies show that happy couples are committed couples. Commitment is when a couple makes a conscious decision to work through their relationship problems regardless of the challenges they face as a couple.
Men are not afraid of commitment. However, they are so scared of being committed to the wrong woman. Also, he is not intimidated or too shy to bring the subject up. When Mr Right has pursued you, taken the time to know you, and is emotionally connected to you, he will not want anyone else to have you.
That said, just as you do not want to feel pressured about sex, he does not want to feel pressured about commitment. When it comes to dedication, he has his timetable and like you can’t nail jello to the wall; you cannot force him into a committed relationship until he is ready.
If it has been several months or more than a year, and the relationship is not moving towards commitment, and you feel you need to know where you stand, you can gradually pull back and spend less time with him and more time with family and friends. Usually, after a couple of weeks or so, he will bring the subject up. You can ask him to talk about his intentions and where he sees the relationship headed when he does. But this is not the time to pressure him or give him an ultimatum.
This is your life. And you have every right to want what you want and not settle. If you have done the best you know to do and Mr Right is unsure of commitment, then you can choose to stay, or you can choose to walk away.